Christina Onassis Biography

Business Leader(1950–1988)
Heiress and businesswoman Christina Onassis was the daughter of self-made Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Socrates Onassis.

Synopsis

Christina Onassis was born on December 11, 1950 in New York City. The daughter of self-made Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Socrates Onassis, she devoted herself to working at her father's headquarters in Monaco, soon proving herself to be a savvy, intelligent businesswoman. After her brother's and father's death, she was running the family business. Unfortunately, her success was overshadowed by lingering pain and tumult, with her personal life marked by successive marriages and binge eating. She died in 1988 in Argentina at the age of 37.

Background and Family Life

Heiress and businesswoman Christina Onassis was born on December 11, 1950, in New York City. She was the daughter of self-made Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Socrates Onassis and his first wife Athina "Tina" Livanos. Christina was the couple's second child, with older brother Alexander born in 1948.

Christina spent her early childhood in the south of France, New York and Switzerland, as much to further her education as to escape the family's media scrutiny and her parents' divorce. (Her parents split up over Aristotle's affair with famed singer Maria Callas.) Her father wed his next famous paramour, former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, in 1968. Christina however never fully warmed to her new stepmother. And in an odd twist of fate, Athina married third husband Stavros Niarchos in 1971. Niarchos was not only Aristotle's primary shipping rival but the widower of Athina's sister. 

While raised in the lap of luxury, Christina grew up without much attention from either of her parents and was often looked after by servants. 

Personal Misfortunes

As public interest in her family grew, Christina became increasingly determined to carve her own path. She staunchly defied her father, as Aristotle wished for her to wed Peter Goulandris, a young man who also belonged to a Greek shipping clan. Instead, in 1971 she married millionaire American builder Joseph Bolker when she was only 20 years old, with Bolker 27 years her senior. Her father deeply disapproved of the match, cutting off his daughter's trust fund. 

For Christina, the marriage would be the first of four, none of which lasted more than two years. After she and Bolker split, Christina devoted herself to working at her father's headquarters in Monaco. She started as a secretary, but soon proved herself to be a savvy, intelligent businesswoman.

Unfortunately, Christina's success in business was overshadowed by tragedy in her personal life. Her beloved brother Alexander died in a plane crash in 1973. Both of her parents were devastated by his death. The following October, her mother passed away in Paris. Some reports indicate that she had taken a drug overdose or suffered a pulmonary edema. Then Aristotle himself died in 1975. Within a short span of time, Christina's closest family members were gone, and she reportedly tangled with her stepmother Jacqueline after her father's death. Christina managed to gain control over much of her father's tremendous shipping empire and took the reins of the organization, with half of his estate used to establish the Alexander Onassis Foundation.

Over time, Christina tried to find happiness. In 1975 she married Alexander Andreadis, a member of a prominent Greek family, but their union was over the following year. In 1978 she wed Russian shipping agent Sergei Kauzov, with the couple splitting the following year. Throughout the years, she also struggled with her weight, having waves of binge eating and cola drinking. There were reports of her abusing amphetamines and barbiturates as well.

Untimely Death

In 1984, Onassis wed French businessman Thierry Roussel. The following year, the couple welcomed a daughter, Athina, who was born in Paris. Onassis' marriage soon broke up, however, because of Roussel's infidelity. 

According to some reports, Onassis was considering starting a new life for herself and her daughter in Argentina, visiting friends who lived near Buenos Aires in November of 1988. On November 19, Onassis was found dead in her friend's home. Though her last moments were shrouded in mystery, her death was attributed to a heart attack brought on by years of drug abuse.

Onassis is survived by her daughter, Athina, who was raised with her father, stepmother and three step-siblings in Switzerland and France. Athina later battled her father for control of her inheritance, which has been estimated to be as much as $2.4 billion. In 2005, she married Olympic equestrian Affonso de Miranda Neto in Brazil.

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